|About this item
- The Everyman Tarot is a male-centric 78-card tarot created with men in mind. The familiar Rider-Waite imagery has been redrawn to reflect how modern men experience life and relate to the world around them. Each suit is associated with a male character: Mr Buttondown as the Swords, Mr Athletic as Cups, Mr Bear as Wands, and the deck designer himself appears in Pentacles.
Self Published 2013
Minor Arcana Style
PDF file of the card meanings is available with the deck. John Mangiapane's other tarot books are available separately.
A colourised version of the Everyman Tarot is in progress.
reviewing a deck called The Everyman Tarot, especially when,
to paraphrase John Mangiapane it’s creator - it is a
tarot for men, by a man, taking a male perspective on
tarot, which has been missing in the past.
I made John’s
acquaintance here on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum a short time ago and we started having
some discussions about publishing tarot decks,
protecting copyright, the high cost and slow speed of
shipping etc. Then John bought a copy of my deck from the
GameCrafter for a friend who was into the movies. I must
admit, I hadn’t considered buying a copy of The Everyman
Tarot - it felt a bit like I might be intruding into
some sacred male space. Then someone had the brilliant
idea to swap decks and review them for each other - yes
it was me, but John immediately responded to the
challenge and agreed.
After the initial rush of blood to
the head - I had my OMG moment. OMG why did I do
this? OMG whatever am I going to have to say about a
deck for men? OMG what if I don’t like the deck?
Etcetera, etcetera etcetera... as the saying goes, you get
Well the decks duly arrived in our
respective mailboxes, John’s copy of my deck first, and my
copy of John’s deck a couple of days later (I’m not
sure what that says about our respective postal
services, but John’s delivers on Saturdays and I got mine
the following Monday). John had sent me another
little surprise with his deck - his colored majors plus
the 4 aces, but a bit more about that later in this
I spent Monday afternoon grokking the deck (as a
friend calls it), laying out the majors and the suits,
comparing them with my RWS etcetera.
impressions. The deck is a 78 card RWS based deck and uses
the standard interpretations with some quirky twists,
more about those later. I liked the box design very
much - much more than it’s appearance on the images on
GameCrafter - they just don’t do it justice. It came with a
folded LWB with meanings organised by major arcana first,
then rather than suit descriptions the rest is
organised by card number.
A huge endorsement came from my
big, alpha-male, ginger, talking, Maine Coon cat Rufus.
He couldn’t get close enough to the cards. In
fact he wanted to sit on them. When he was told to
keep his distance he sat as close as possible and kept
putting his paw on or pointing to The Hermit. He did
this again even after the deck was reshuffled - The
Hermit again. I’ve never seen him react to a deck like
this. The Hermit forms the front of the box cover too.
I took Rufus to mean that there was some hidden
wisdom here. So I thought I probably needed to grok it
better and bought John’s companion book (Every Man’s
Tarot: Tarot and the Male Experience) available from
Amazon as an eBook ($8-$9).
Let’s start with the
practical stuff first.
Major arcana - John appears as the
subject of nine of the major arcana (Fool, Magician,
Emperor, Chariot, Strength, Hermit, Hanged Man and Moon).
Most of the cards are re-drawings of the RWS majors but
there are some twists. Here is an example. In The
Fool John has drawn himself in the classic RWS pose,
but is dressed in bushwalking gear and carries a cane
in one hand, a pencil and paintbrush in the other and
his signature curling moustachios. He is accompanied
by the little dog from the RWS. Many of the cards
are a quirky mixture of the old and new - John uses
many of the old symbols and inserts himself in more
modern garb into the picture.
Then we get to the first
traditionally female card in the deck - The High Priestess. In
the Everyman Tarot not every card is male - there are
female cards in the deck, and they are very sweet. I’m
not sure what I was expecting, but I certainly don’t
find caricatures or dismissal of women in this
Rufus’ favourite card (The Hermit) depicts John as both
the seeker and the sought. He stands holding a
flashlight on the mountain illuminating another version of
himself looking back at himself, if you get my drift. No
wonder Rufus likes it - he is a complex cat! This theme
repeats in The Moon card also.
Now onto the suits. John
has used the classic RWS naming for the suits - Wands,
Cups, Swords and Pentacles. The cards again follow the
classic RWS images but here is where it gets interesting.
A different (male) character tells the story of
each suit, with the exception of the Queens, which
The Wands character strikes me as a bit
of a redneck. He dresses in a flannie shirt, baggy
cargo shorts and wears a baseball cap the wrong way
round. We follow him through the suit where he drinks
beer, lights bonfires, and gets into fights. My
favourite card here is the Four of Wands. It looks to be a
party in the woods. The bonfire is lit, the beers are
chilling and a few people have already arrived. Mr.
Redneck is waving a greeting, a beer in one hand and the
four wands are festooned with a welcome sign.
type is the character for Cups. He has long hair
plaited and held back by a head band. He wears sandals
and a kind of tracksuit with a wavy pattern. We
watch him partner up, party, have a hangover, make
difficult choices, put on weight and have a joyous home and
family. If I were to pick a favourite card here it would
be the Three of Cups. Mr Hippie dances with two
women in a field in the classic pose of this card.
They hold up their cups in celebration and each carry a
bunch of grapes.
The Swords character is a white collar
worker of some kind. In his book John describes him as
the classic A-type personality. He has a shaved
head, wears a shirt, tie, long trousers, a large black
belt and glasses. We watch as he outwits co-workers,
climbs the slippery slope, steals resources and is
overwhelmed with paperwork. Once he gets to the court cards,
his tie changes to a sky with clouds, indicating a
level of enlightenment. The Queen in this suit is very
grumpy indeed. Two cards compete for favourite in this
suit for me. I like the Six of Swords. Mr. White
Collar is on a bridge or jetty of some sort. He
prepares to climb some steps upward, but each step is
formed out of a sword indicating that this necessary
journey will not be an easy one. I also very much like
the Nine of Swords. Mr. White Collar sits at his
desk, head in hands, piles of paperwork in front of him
and a wall of swords behind. It has a great feeling
of being overwhelmed with negative thoughts - I think
we’ve all been there!
Finally we have Pentacles, and
here John returns as an artistic, nature-loving type as
the central character of the suit. He is dressed in
a t-shirt, cargo pants and walking shoes. Of
course, his glasses and curled moustachios accompany him.
We see him juggling priorities, creating art,
feeling isolated, being generous, working hard and
relaxing at the end of a long day with his dogs. My
favourite card here is the Three of Pentacles. Mr. Artist
stands at his desk progressively improving a drawing of a
pentacle. In front of him we see three versions, each more
detailed than the last, which nicely spells out the
meanings of this card around mastery of your trade. I
also like the Five of Pentacles. Mr. Artist is in
the classic pose, walking past a church. The quirky
touches here are the broken glasses on the ground and the
fact that he is no longer able to keep his moustachios
curled - it’s quite poignant.
What do I like most about
this deck? I think it’s John’s way of telling the
tarot story through his four personalities. It reminds
us that there are different personalities in this
world and that we each come with certain tendencies,
skills, talents and experiences. We can react to the
same events in different ways. There are lots of nice
touches throughout but I won’t spoil them for you.
like the book. We hear a lot about the communication
differences between men and women, Mars and Venus and all
that. John uses a very direct, ‘in your face’ style of
writing, that may suit more men perhaps than women. At
the very least it provides a very down to earth option
in tarot books. I would recommend purchasing this
also ($8-$9 on Amazon) as it helps to explain not only
the deck but is a useful general tarot
John has been criticised for inserting himself so much
into the deck, but I didn’t find it problematic. If
you view John as a stand in for Everyman, I quite like
the idea that he appears as the Pentacles character
(the mundane and worldly) and in the major arcana
(higher self, spirituality) to show that we operate at
different levels. The other characters help make concrete
the interactions with other characters in our daily
Do I think this is a deck only for men? Probably
not. It is a functional RWS style of deck that can be
used by any tarot reader. My working career has been
in primarily male environments and I think this deck
could be used to good effect by women to get a
perspective on what might be going on in their male
There are also a few things I would
quibble with. First is John’s suggestion that most tarot
decks are written for women by women. Being a bit of
statistician I thought I would check my library - nearly 40% of
mine are written by men. Then perhaps I am the
exception that proves the rule!
Second is why John stopped
drawing himself into the major arcana. Well it’s not
really a quibble, just a question. As well as The Fool
and The Magician I would have liked to see him as The
Hierophant and The Devil.
Finally, and this is just a
personal preference, I like my decks to be colored and
John’s colorized version is still some way away.
summing up, I like The Everyman Tarot. It’s a bit quirky
and fun. It sticks to the RWS system so there isn’t
a need to learn a new set of interpretations. It
has levels and layers of meaning to it. It
potentially opens up tarot to a new audience that might be
less comfortable with some of the more mystical and
fanciful decks (eg, vampires, fairies, angels, dolphins
etc). The companion book is written in a direct and
forthright manner. John doesn’t pull his punches.